The secret to happiness is money, research shows

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2013

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The Beatles sang "can't buy me love" - but apparently you can buy happiness.

While som people may cling to the adage that "money can't buy happiness", research suggests the opposite is true, and the more money you have, the happier you'll be.

In fact, those sayings were simply a "delusion", the Auckland University study found.

"It's an axiom that money can't buy love. Our results, however, show that, to a certain extent, it can buy happiness and good health," said the report published last year in the New Zealand Journal of Psychology.

The findings will be made public later this year.

The report's lead author, Nikhil Sengupta, said the aim was to test the sayings that those with less money used to comfort themselves - such as "more money, more problems".

They discovered those sayings were "comforting illusions", and as people's bank balances grew, so did their levels of happiness, while stress melted away, he said.

"People who are wealthier are less stressed because they have a stronger ability - a perceived ability - to meet their needs."

Those on lower incomes worried about meeting basic needs, which increased stress, the report said.

"Poorer people tended to report more stress, less happiness, lower levels of satisfaction with their lives, and a lower ability to meet basic needs and life necessities.

"The comforting belief that poorer people are compensated by increased happiness and less stress is a delusion in the New Zealand context, and a dangerous one at that."

But when it came to the link between income and quality of life, the dollar amount wasn't as notable as a percentage jump in pay packets, Mr Sengupta said.

People whose income doubled from $10,000 to $20,000 reported the same boost in happiness as $100,000-earners whose income rose to $200,000.

"Income does predict how happy people are going to be with their lives . . . regardless of how much they earn."

Decision-makers now had to take note of the findings and stop holding on to the "false belief" that poorer people were at least happier, and look at "how we are going to lift them out of poverty to make them happier", he said.

The research was based on statistical analysis of phone surveys of 2746 women and 2451 men.

The median household income of those surveyed was $65,000.

While the survey was done in 2008 the results were unlikely to vary much today, because international research showed similar results at different times, Mr Sengupta said.

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- The Dominion Post

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